UAE lose out to United States in thriller despite Aryan Lakra's heroics

Youngster sparkles on debut but national team fall to a one-wicket defeat in Scotland

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Aryan Lakra was denied a winning start to his international career as UAE lost out by a single wicket to United States in a thrilling one-day international in Aberdeen.

The 20-year-old debutant made a fine half-century to help the national team post a target of 254. Then USA weathered an alarming late collapse as they just made it over the winning line.

The fact Lakra had been picked to debut in place of Kashif Daud was not entirely a surprise.

Daud had been uncharacteristically poor a day earlier in the loss to Scotland, with an economy rate of 6.66 when bowling, and suffering the indignity of a golden duck, too.

Swapping him for Lakra would give the UAE an extra left-arm spin option, on a wicket that was having its second day of use.

What was a shock, however, was the fact Lakra walked to the wicket right at the start of play, and opened the batting with Muhammad Waseem.

Deposing Chirag Suri from his berth at the top of the order seemed a canny decision right from the off, though.

Lakra took his first over in international cricket for 11 runs, and seemed well equipped to deal with stepping up to elite level.

Hearteningly, the biggest stand of the UAE innings was between two players who had played together on the world stage in Under 19 cricket only recently.

Lakra captained the UAE side who went to the age-group World Cup in two years ago, leading a cohort that included Vriitya Aravind.

Aravind, who only turned 20 in June, has established himself in the senior game in the time since – to a record-breaking extent, as he became just the third player to notch two ODI tons while still a teenager.

So rapid has been his ascent, Aravind has been named as vice-captain of the national team for this series.

And yet he had to defer to his former age-group leader as he and Lakra pieced together an alliance worth 111 for UAE’s third wicket against USA.

Despite all the years of cricket they have played together, it was a misunderstanding between them which brought about Lakra’s demise.

He was left stranded after an aborted single when on 84. He was 16 short of becoming the 17th player to score a century on ODI debut.

It was difficult to tell who was more heartbroken – Lakra or his batting partner. To exacerbate the issue, he then holed out four balls later, having made 53.

When Rohan Mustafa was then run out off the next ball, UAE appeared to be in a tailspin.

A stand worth 63 between Basil Hameed and CP Rizwan for the sixth wicket helped them towards a total that eventually reached 253-8 by the end of the 50 overs.

With Sushant Modani and the dangerous Steven Taylor accounted for, the United States run chase was in the balance when – inexplicably – wind stopped play.

In the four days since arriving in Aberdeen for this series, the national team’s players have scarcely seen a cloud in the sky.

So fine had the conditions been, the match officials had not even considered signing off the Duckworth-Lewis Stern calculations.

And yet a freak gust of wind brought play shuddered to a halt for 48 minutes, after the two sightscreens at the top end of the field were upended.

Such was the force at which they were overturned, one was smashed irrevocably. Groundstaff worked manfully to get the remaining screen back in working order, in such good time that no overs were lost, meaning no DLS calculation was required.

When play resumed after the interruption, it was the United States who responded the better.

Monank Patel and Aaron Jones put on 126 together for the third wicket, to break the back of the run chase.

UAE’s frustration was obvious. When Jones was finally removed from the crease, having made 51, he did not take kindly to the send off he received from a pumped up Junaid Siddique. The umpires warned Ahmed Raza, UAE’s captain, to temper his fast bowler’s behaviour.

It felt a crucial moment, though, as the United States were overcome by nerves. Thanks to a combination of fine catching and ground fielding, as well as jittery batting, the American side lost six wickets for 40 runs.

It left them requiring two off the last over with just a lone wicket remaining. They got over the line when Gajanand Singh cut Basil Hameed away for the winning runs.

Updated: August 11, 2022, 7:36 PM